NEW ORLEANS — Once Trae Young and the surging Atlanta Hawks found their offensive rhythm in the second half, there seemed little Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram or the rest of the New Orleans Pelicans could do to keep up.
Young had 22 points and 12 assists, and the Hawks defeated New Orleans 123-105 on Saturday night to extend their winning streak to four games.
“The second half, I was playing more, just aggressive, and played off my teammates,” said Young, who had just six points on 2-of-8 shooting in the first half. “We don’t really worry about who’s taking over a game or who’s the leading scorer that game. We just want to win.
“It could be somebody else another night,” Young continued. “We’re just going to continue to play the right way, feed the hot hand.”
Jalen Johnson added 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Dejounte Murray scored 20 for the Hawks, who trailed by 10 early in the second half before surging in front with a 30-10 run.
“We were missing shots early and missing some layups and we played through it, which I thought was really good,” Atlanta coach Quin Snyder said.
Snyder also highlighted the defensive effort of De’Andre Hunter, who dislocated a finger during the game and played through it.
“What ‘Dre did tonight, like, put it on the front page,” Snyder said. “When he came back, the defensive job he did was phenomenal and it really gave our team a lift.”
Atlanta’s victory came despite the return of Williamson and Ingram to New Orleans’ lineup. The Pelicans won without both former All-Stars on Thursday night against Detroit, but couldn’t keep pace with the high-scoring Hawks.
“We just couldn’t get stops, and even when we did stop them, they got offensive rebounds,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said, alluding to Atlanta’s 19 offensive rebounds and 24 second-chance points.
“That’s just demoralizing,” he added. “We have to be better at having the mindset that we’re going to get stops, we’re going to finish those possessions with rebounds.”
Williamson scored 25 points, highlighted by his uncontested windmill dunk in the first half. Ingram had 16 and Pelicans rookie Jordan Hawkins hit four 3-pointers on his way to a career-high 15 points.
New Orleans led 63-53 on Williamson’s driving layup early in the third quarter. That’s when Atlanta seized momentum, starting with Young’s driving floater.
Johnson, Murray, Hunter and Young each added a 3 during the Hawks’ decisive third-quarter spurt, and Atlanta went up 94-77 on an alley-oop dunk by Onyeka Okongwu, who scored 17 points.
Hawkins gave New Orleans a spark at the end of the period, hitting consecutive 3s to make it 94-83. But the Pelicans struggled to get within 10 the rest of the way.
Clint Capella added 17 points for Atlanta, while CJ McCollum and Herb Jones each scored 13 for New Orleans.
Snyder said the Hawks’ chemistry and leadership are starting to stand out, particularly in the way players continued to validate their teammates’ shot selection during the second quarter, when Atlanta went just 10 of 26 (38%) from the field.
“You can lead in a lot of ways,” Snyder said, adding that “sticking together” is one of them. “We weren’t making shots in the first half, but guys were telling each other, ‘That’s a good shot,’ even though it didn’t go in.”
Hawks: Visit Oklahoma City on Monday.
Pelicans: Visit Denver on Monday.
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